Monstress

Well, yesterday was a big day.

I took the stage at Image Expo to discuss my new creator-owned title, MONSTRESS, which I’m working on with Sana Takeda (who is brilliant and kicking ass).  I gave an extensive interview at Newsarama, so check that out — but in short, it’s a privilege and honor to be creating this book with her at Image, where we can finally stretch our wings.  We’ve also got Rus Wooton on letters and design, and editing is being handled by Jennifer Smith, my former assistant editor at Marvel.

I’ll be writing more about Monstress, but in the meantime, here’s a full rundown of all the art we showed at the release — and it’ll give you a hint of what’s in store for readers this summer.

“Monstress is about an outsider, a young woman who belongs nowhere; it is about young women who fight, who tame, who are consumed—and who become monsters in their own right,” said Liu. “I wanted to tell a story that encompasses all these things, and more. A story about women, young and old, picking up the pieces after surviving the horrors of war—and finding a home for themselves in a world that has otherwise exploited them. Set in an alternate history to our own, where immense Cloverfield-like monstrosities have conquered half the planet, and spanning the steppes of a shattered Asia, to the destroyed heart of a fallen Europe, Monstress is an epic adventure of frontiers and empires, and the rise of a young woman warrior, whose power may either doom or redeem the planet.”

monstresspromo

sketch00_A sketch01 sketch02 sketch04

VONA

If you had asked me ten years ago — or even a couple years ago — whether I could ever see myself teaching I would have said, “No way.”  I didn’t think I was cut out for it.  But I began to realize that for those same ten years I’d been poo-pooing my ability to talk coherently about writing, I’d been doing just that: discussing process, structure, character, and more; on panels, in interviews, on this blog, to other writers.  So when I was invited to teach a some masterclasses at various literary festivals and conventions, I didn’t say no.  When I was asked to teach a writing workshop at the MFA program at Stonecoast, I dove in.  And guess what?   I really enjoyed teaching.  More like, I loved it.  And after teaching at VONA and MIT, I love it even more.

Speaking of VONA, it’s that time of year again.  The program is open for applications, and will be until March 15th.  For those who aren’t familiar with it, VONA/Voices is “the only multi-genre workshop for writers of color in the nation…The mission of VONA is to develop emerging writers of color through programs and workshops taught by established writers of color.”

This year (and for the foreseeable future) VONA will take place at the University of Miami, and the amazing faculty (Junot Diaz, David Mura, Tananarive Due, and more) represent multiple genres that range from fiction, playwriting, memoir, to poetry. I myself teach a week-long workshop on Popular Fiction, where we cover all the sub-genres of Romance, Mystery, Urban Fantasy, YA, and more.

If you’re a writer of color, and you’ve got a week in June to spare, take a chance on VONA.  It’s an important program, but it’s also a place where writers can find their voices and take chances in a safe environment.

Learn more at the VONA website.

 

Character: Dialogue

I’m writing a new comic (which I’ll finally be able to discuss next week after the announcement at Image Expo) and this early in the work I’m still learning the voices of my characters.  Some of them are emerging full-born, chatty and easy — others, I’m having to tease and tweak, and experiment with.  It’s fine, either way.  I enjoy this part of the process.  But it has reminded me again of the differences between writing comics and novels.

Good dialogue always matters.  Always, always.  But let’s say that writing dialogue isn’t your strength.  Okay, that’s fine.  In novels you can sometimes camouflage bad dialogue.  Or even limit the amount of dialogue you’ve got through the work of engaging a character’s interior life.  There’s always a work-around.  It’s not easy, but you can do it.  Where you’re weak in one area of prose, you’ll hopefully be strong in another.

I don’t think that’s actually possible in comics.  Dialogue stands out in its isolation.  There’s no prose, no descriptive cushion.  Just the art — and your words.  Words that are specific to characters.  Words that are conversations.  Words that sometimes provide narration.  You may craft a gorgeous script, but the dialogue is all that the reader will ever see.

There’s also the extra burden of limited space.  In a typical comic, panels aren’t large enough to accommodate a huge amount of talking.  Conversations have to be succinct, and should accomplish a couple things at once: imparting information, but also character (i.e. think about how personality is revealed through the way someone speaks, through the words used, to the rhythm, to the body language).

It’s not easy.  Or rather, some characters make it easy.  But we’re not always that lucky.  So what’s the solution?  In my case, nothing more than continued revision, speaking lines out loud, rearranging conversations, re-imagining characters.  Playing until it feels right.  And sometimes it’s never going to feel right, and I just have to own that fact, and keep it moving.

This is also my strategy while writing novels, but the pressure feels a bit different.  The lines in comics are just so much more exposed.

Anyway, that’s what I’m wrestling with right now.  A lot of moving pieces, and all of them are words.

 

 

2014 via Instragram

It’s hard to sum up a year — so much happens, so much that’s small and lovely and difficult and beautiful — but moments get captured, nonetheless.  At least, those moments I choose to share.  Very few of the photographs I take end up on Instagram.  What people usually see are cats, food, sunsets, snippets of my life here and there.  It’s not entirely representative of who I am, but there’s a definite theme that’s all me, and all true.

That said, here’s what my 2014 looked like, via Instagram.

I would love to know his secrets. #catpower

A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

From morning to sunset, over Harvard Square. A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

Well, I’m in Tokyo. For the next 40 days.

A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

“Have your courage.” #tokyo A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

Another shot from Miyajima on this cold, rainy morning.

A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

From a sunny day this week in Fukuoka: the best green tea ice cream, eaten during a walk to the shrine. A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

I hung out with my other boyfriend today. Shhh!

A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

Also, most beautiful sight ever: cherry blossoms hanging over the canal in Naka-meguro. A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

 

What can I say? I attract super villains! #wondercon (seriously, best costumes ever) A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

“Yes, Batman, what IF art ruled the world?” #montreal #walking

A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

Good morning from the deck of a ferry, crossing the sea after a storm. A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

 

When I swing, I feel like I’m flying. And then I feel like I’m going to vomit. But flying is totally worth it.

 

A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

Do not mess with me and this riding lawnmower, folks. I will roll all over your shoes. And giggle. A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

This is what a perfect summer looks like. A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

 

A gloriously beautiful day for a walk along the beach.

 

A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

 

Discovered amazing okonomiyaki in a lovely little neighborhood. Total Japanese comfort food after a long Berlin walk.

 

A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

I’d just mentioned out loud that I hadn’t seen any Hong Kong street cats, and lo, a cat appears. #magic A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

 

I don’t know about you, but I could use some beauty and peace tonight. A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

My dad and the cat have developed a ritual while I’ve been away: the occasional casual hug while reading books. A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

Poodles make the best footwear when dancing through the house.   A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on